Lawmakers raise concerns about power plant plan in Yaphank

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Suffolk legislators Monday questioned PSEG Long Island about the necessity and expense of LIPA's plan to build a big new power plant in Yaphank.

PSEG for months has studied LIPA's road map to meet future energy needs, including construction of the Caithness II plant to supply 752 megawatts beginning in May 2018. PSEG's preliminary review of future needs is expected within several weeks.

County lawmakers at a public works committee meeting pointed to proposed state and PSEG initiatives to cut electricity consumption and boost green-energy sources in questioning the need for such a large new plant. Caithness II is estimated to cost ratepayers more than $3 billion over a 20-year contract.

Caithness and LIPA say it's needed to fill a 1,200 megawatt power gap expected by 2023, and it will modernize the Island's aging power fleet.

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"Are we building something that's the Edsel for 2014?" said Legis. Thomas F. Barraga (R-West Islip).

PSEG Long Island president David Daly said the utility was conducting an all-encompassing review of LIPA's power sources, including those planned and those already under contract, and taking into account demand-reduction and renewables programs.

"It all plays together," he said.

Legis. John M. Kennedy Jr. (R-Nesconset) expressed concern that decisions about a natural gas main to the plant appeared unresolved. "The unanswered piece seems to be the method selected for fueling the plant," said Kennedy, noting that such decisions were historically "significant in cost and impact to the community."

Said Daly: "I can assure [you] that leg of the stool is being carefully evaluated in great detail."

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